Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Hakkōda Ropeway to Yakeyama, the Prelude to Oirase Gorge

While you might know of or have been to the beautiful Oirase Gorge, did you know that there are other scenic spots in the area, such as Hakkōda Ropeway (八甲田ロープウェー) or Tsuta-Numa Pond (蔦沼)? Read on to find out more!

To get to Oirase Gorge by public transport, you can either take a bus from JR Hachinohe Station (八戸駅) throughout the year or from JR Aomori (青森駅) and Shin-Aomori Station (新青森駅) between mid-April to mid-November (as the services terminate at Sukayu Onsen (酸ケ湯温泉) in winter for this line). If you choose to travel down south from Aomori, then the JR bus will definitely take you straight to the Hakkōda Ropeway (in winter as well)!

Before we go into too much detail, below is a list of attractions in the area!

For detailed information about how to explore the area by public transportation, please refer to our article on Oirase Gorge.

Hakkōda Ropeway (八甲田ロープウェー)

Ropeways are not cheap to build. So if a ropeway is built at a location, the scenery from the ropeway is bound to be amazing. Not only is the Hakkōda Ropeway known for its great view, but they are also known for its skiing and snowboarding courses from the Summit Station (山麓・山頂駅).

For more information about the ropeway and attractions around it, please refer to our article on Hakkōda Mountains!

Hakkoda Ropeway Aomori Japan Autumn
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Jōgakura Onsen (城ヶ倉温泉)

Jogakura Onsen Aomori Japan
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Jōgakura Onsen is a European-style onsen resort located between Hakkōda Ropeway and the beautiful Oirase Gorge.

If your itinerary isn’t so packed, why not enjoy a few hours of trekking or even hiking from the Summit Station of the Hakkōda Ropeway and spend the night there? This would be the place to unwind and rest your tired feet so that you will be full of energy as you explore Oirase Gorge the next day!

Apart from their really delicious dinner and breakfast (with ingredients sourced freshly and locally), their outdoor onsen facility can also be enjoyed throughout the year!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to bathe within the virgin beech forest surrounded by the light green in spring and summer, vibrant autumn leaves in autumn, and pure-white snow in winter?

HERE is the link to their official English website. Please also refer to the below information that may be useful in the event you decide to make a reservation (=゚ω゚)ノ.

About Jōgakura Onsen

  • There is a free pick-up service from the police station in front of JR Aomori Station (青森駅), departing at 3:30 pm each day. If you require this service, please reserve 3 days in advance
  • There are also free pick-up and drop-off services to and from Sukayu Onsen and Jōgakura Bridge. Please let the resort know when you would like to be picked up and dropped off
  • If you enjoy stargazing, there is equipment that the resort may rent out to their guests. Please check with the reception on the day for more information and its availability
  • The resort provides a backcountry ski tour, but you will need to hold basic Japanese skills to participate
  • There are no private onsen facilities available, but you can reserve the rooms that come with a small onsen pool
  • Not all room types have shower facilities equipped
  • There are washing machines and dryers available if you need them (not free, though)

Tip: If you are a vegetarian like us, don’t forget to inform them of your dietary requirements when you book (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

Jōgakura Bridge (城ヶ倉大橋)

Jōgakura Bridge is located just 30 minutes walk from Jōgakura Onsen (but if you stay at Jogakura Onsen, the resort will provide free pick-up and drop-off services).

With 255 meters in length, the bridge is the longest arch bridge in Japan (‘ω’)ノ.

From the bridge, you will get a panoramic view of the mountains around you. The spot is particularly famous for its autumn foliage, ranking within the top 5 in North-Eastern Japan!

Jogakura Bridge Aomori Japan
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

The winter wonderland bridge view is another reason why so many people love this bridge (*´ω`).

Jogakura Bridge Aomori Japan Winter
Ⓒ photo-ac.com

Sukayu Onsen (酸ケ湯温泉)

Sukayu Onsen Aomori Japan Autumn
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Another popular destination between the Hakkoda Ropeway and Oirase Gorge is Sukayu Onsen.

Sukayu Onsen is probably most famously known for its mixed-gender onsen – Hiba Senin Furo (ヒバ千人風呂). And yes, when we say mixed-gender, it is a public bathing facility that both genders can use at the SAME TIME Σ(゚Д゚).

The Unique Onsen Experience at Sukayu Onsen

If you are looking for memories that will last you a lifetime, this might be the one that you want to challenge yourself with…(albeit some areas are female-only without barriers).

Sukayu Onsen does understand that the mixed-gender onsen isn’t for everyone. So for our female friends, between 8 am to 9 am in the morning and evening, you can enjoy the Hiba Senin Furo without the presence of any male guests. Other than these time slots, although not as big as the Hiba Senin Furo, the Tama no Yu (玉の湯) is another single-gender onsen facility for anyone who is not comfortable sharing onsen with the opposite sex.

Sukayu Onsen Hiba Senin Furo Aomori Japan
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Important: Each of the onsen pools at Sukayu Onsen has a different temperature and acidity. One of them, called Nettō (熱湯), has an acidity of pH1.7. Due to the strong acidity, you may want to bathe there for only 5 – 10 minutes.

Before you head off and prepare to warm up in the hot springs, it will be a good idea to check with the hotel if they have a guide indicating how long an individual should be in the onsen.

Regardless of Sukayu Onsen’s unique bathing system, the sulfur-based onsen is said to be quite effective for those with various physical disorders such as muscle pain, joint pain, and poor circulation (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Tip: if you are a vegetarian like us, don’t forget to inform them of your dietary requirements when you book (=゚ω゚)ノ.

The Origin of Sukayu Onsen

Sukayu Onsen Aomori Japan Winter
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Sukayu Onsen was discovered approximately 300 years ago. At the time, it was called “Shika-yu 鹿湯”.

The Onsen was found by a hunter who saw shika (deers) healing their wounds with the onsen. From this, the onsen was then called Shika-yu.

After its discovery, because of the high acidity of onsen water, the name became Suka-yu 酸ヶ湯 (the “su” has the meaning of acid in Japanese).

Events at Sukayu Onsen

Please note the below events are currently not available.

At Sukayu Onsen, various guide tours are scheduled depending on the reason. For more information on what is on and the exact dates the tours are on, please refer to the announcement on their website HERE and translate the webpage by using Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar. The tour guide can speak English, so you can still participate in the tour even if you don’t understand Japanese (‘ω’)ノ.

  • Show shoe Hiking in January and February
  • Snow corridor trekking in late March to the beginning of April
  • Trekking in the summer months

Important: Please also note that the tour bookings are to be made at the hotel’s reception (usually at least 1 day in advance). The tours are not free of charge, even if you stay overnight at the hotel.

How to Get to Sukayu Onsen

Please take the JR Bus Mizuumii-Gō (みずうみ号) and get off at Sukayu Onsen (酸ケ湯温泉).

  • From Aomori:
    To get to Sukayu Onsen, please take JR Bus Mizuumii-Gō from either JR Aomori Station’s bus stop #11 or the bus stop #1 located at JR Shin-Aomori’s east exit.
  • From Lake Towada (only accessible from mid-Apr to mid-Nov):
    To get to Sukayu Onsen, please take JR Bus Mizuumi from JR Tohoku Bus Nenokuchi Station (ジェイアールバス東北 子ノ口駅)

Tip: If you are coming from Aomori and want to stay overnight at Sukayu Onsen, book their free pick-up and drop-off services in advance (=゚ω゚)ノ.

The hotel is currently able to pick up its guests from the Auga Parking Lot (アウガ駐車場) close to JR Aomori Station from 10:15 am and 2 pm. The drop-off back to the same location from Sukayu Onsen departs the hotel at 8:50 am and 12:30 pm.

The travel time between JR Aomori Station and Sukayu Onsen is approximately 60 minutes.

Sukayu Onsen Campsite (酸ヶ湯キャンプ場)

If you are visiting the area during the summer months, the Sukayu Campsite will operate between late June and October. Please refer to their website HERE. Again, the website is in Japanese, so translate it with Google Chrom’s translation function. If you need assistance, contact us HERE, and we will get back to you (‘ω’)ノ.

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

Hakkōda Snow Corridor (八甲田雪の回廊) and Hakkōda/Towada Gold Line (八甲田・十和田ゴールドライン)

Hakkoda Snow Corridor Aomori Japan
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

If a visit to a snow corridor is on your bucket list, instead of going to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route‘s snow corridor (which is usually packed with people), why not visit the snow corridor close to Sukayu Onsen instead?

Hakkōda/Towada Gold Line is the driveway (National Highway no. 102 and 103) that connects Lake Towada with the foot Hakkōda Mountains.

As the road connecting Hakkōda Hotel (八甲田ホテル) close to Sukayu Onsen and Yachi Onsen (谷地温泉) is closed during the winter, the 10-meter tall snow corridor will be the unintended product of preparation before the road is opened for traffic again from April each year!

The best time to visit the corridor is in early April. But even during Golden Week at the beginning of May, the snow wall will still be approximately as tall as you are (^_-)-☆

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

How to Get to the Hakkōda Snow Corridor

To get to the snow corridor, if you are using public transport, you can take JR Bus Mizuumi (みずうみ号) and get off at Sukayu Onsen (酸ケ湯温泉). From there, head for National Highway 103 (国道103号線) towards Yachi Onsen (谷地温泉). It shouldn’t take you too long before you see the corridor!

  • From Aomori:
    To get to Sukayu Onsen, please take JR Bus Mizuumi-Gō from either JR Aomori Station’s bus stop no. 11 or bus stop no. 1 located at JR Shin-Aomori’s east exit.
  • From Lake Towada (only accessible from mid-Apr to mid-Nov):
    To get to Sukayu Onsen, please take JR Bus Mizuumi-Gō from JR Tohoku Bus Nenokuchi Station (ジェイアールバス東北 子ノ口駅)

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

The Picturesque Ponds Between Sukayu Onsen and Tsuta Onsen

Suirennuma-Aomori-Japan
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

In between the Sukayu Onsen and Tsuta Onsen (more details below), you will find nine unique ponds (or swamps if you like) that are definitely worth a visit (=゚ω゚)ノ. Among the nine, six of them are even linked by a promenade!

To plan your visit to those gorgeous ponds, please refer to our article HERE (^_-)-☆

Yachi Onsen (谷地温泉)

Located around the middle between Suiren-numa Pond and Tsuta-numa Pond, Yachi Onsen, which has a history of more than 400 years, is one of Japan’s Three Secret Onsen (日本三秘湯). The other two are the Iya Onsen (祖谷温泉) in Tokushima and Niseko Yakushi Onsen (ニセコ薬師温泉) in Hokkdaidō.

*

The good thing about Yachi Onsen is there are two onsen pools with different temperatures. Both have a sulfur-based hot spring. What most Japanese do is, jump between the two hot spring pools. The one with a lower temperature is basically for them to cool down a bit after it gets too hot in the 42 degrees onsen pool.

The hot spring pools are generally open 24 hours a day except between 9 am to 10 am when cleaning takes place.

Important: Each day between 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm is when you can head to the hot spring pools that are normally for the opposite gender. So keep an eye on the clock to fully enjoy Yachi Onsen!

Tip: As the hot spring of the ryokan is open for day visitors from 10 am to 5 pm, heading to the onsen pools at another time slot can mean you get to enjoy the entire bathing space to yourself.

Taking a Stroll to Yachi Wetlands and Yachi River

As one of Japan’s most famous Three Secret Onsen, Yachi Onsen is hidden in the mountains of Hakkōda. The ryokan is surrounded by a massive beech forest. And close to it, you can observe many native grown wetlands plants at Yachi Wetlands (谷地湿原).

Along the promenade in the beech forest, there are also a couple of observatories that give you a wide view of the Hakkōda mountain ranges and the wetland. You can also stroll along the Yachi River, where you can see trouts (岩魚) swimming freely.

From December to April, when the area is covered by thick snow, instead of trying to spot a trout, you will be finding a cute wild marten that is somehow commonly seen at the riverside of the ryokan.

Things to Watch out for at Yachi Onsen

As a hidden hot spring resort with a long history, some might find the facility old and outdated. But, isn’t that what we go to Japan to experience? For the fashionable and modern bath, one of the high-class hotels in our own country can fulfill the desire.

One thing to be aware of is the walls in this ryokan are thin. This means if you, unfortunately, have a noisy neighbor, it might affect your sleep.

Also, the floorboards are quite old. They will produce some loud sounds when you walk on them.

Regarding the toilet and shower facility, they don’t have a private onsen pool you can rent out. And, except for their Genshi no Ma (源氏の間), all their rooms don’t come with a private toilet and washing basin. You will have to use the communal toilets and washing basin. It goes without saying, none of their rooms have a shower facility.

Lastly, there is almost no mobile reception in the area. But you can use the free Wi-Fi in the ryokan.

Tip: Let the hotel know in advance of your special dietary requirements. They will try their best to cater.

How to Get to Yachi Onsen

There are two ways you can get to Yachi Onsen without having to drive.

  • Take the JR Bus Mizuumi-go from late Apr to early Nov and get off at Yachi Onsen. The ryokan is just a 6-minute walk from the bus stop
  • Reserving a spot with the hotel for its free pick-up and drop-off service
    • From Apr to Nov: the service departs from JR Aomori Station at 1:30 pm and at 1:45 pm from JR Shin-Aomori Station (where the bullet trains stop at)
      • The returning service departs from the ryokan at 10 am
    • From Dec to Mar: the service departs from JR Hachinohe Station at 1:40 pm
    • To reserve, please call them at least 3 days in advance at +81-176-74-1181. If you don’t speak Japanese, you can ask your hotel’s staff to call on your behalf after you land in Japan

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

Tsuta Onsen Ryokan (蔦温泉旅館)

Tsuta Onsen Ryokan Onsen Pool
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

This traditional Japanese Ryokan isn’t only just conveniently located close to the famous Tsuta-numa pond. Its biggest attraction is its onsen pool which is directly built above the source of the onsen (=゚ω゚)ノ.

So unlike most of the onsen pools in Japan, you will see a lot of bubbles coming right from the bottom of the pool, which we think is quite exciting!

Tsuta Onsen currently has two bathing areas. The Kyuan no Yu (久安の湯) is the area that you may want to watch out for because each gender for use is allocated to specific timeslots. Please check with the reception for the timeslots to avoid any potentially embarrassing moments…(´▽`*).

What to Watch out for Before You Make Your Booking

There are quite a few different types of rooms at Tsuta Onsen. Some are equipped with western bedding, and some only have Japanese futon beds.

The other thing to note is that before you book, there are only 3 room types (with the luxurious ones containing a private bath). So if you don’t want to share your relaxing bathing time with strangers, you may consider reserving the luxurious ones (‘ω’)ノ.

Tsuta Onsen Ryokan Aomori Japan Gustroom
Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

HERE is the link to their official English website. Please also find below information that may be useful if you do decide to make a reservation (=゚ω゚)ノ

About Tsuta Onsen

  • Tsuta Onsen is closed from late November to the end of March.
  • There is a free pick-up service from the police station in front of JR Aomori Station, departing at 3:30 pm each day. If you require this service, please reserve 3 days in advance. The hotel bus will stop at Hotel Jogakura first, and you will be looking to arrive at Tsuta Onsen at around 16:50. This service is only available between mid-April and late November.
  • There is also free pick-up (at 3 pm) and drop-off (at 9:30 am) services to and from Shichinohe Towada Station (七戸十和田駅). The meeting point is at the Shichinohe Town Tourism Information Center (七戸町観光交流センター), located at the station’s south exit.
  • If you want to be surrounded by fireflies, consider visiting Tsuta Onsen in July.
  • Please don’t bring in food when you stay at Tsuta Onsen. Bringing your own drinks will be allowed, but this will incur extra charges.
  • If you want to have lunch at Tsuta Onsen, the restaurant is open between 11:30 am to 2 pm (last order at 1:30 pm).
  • There is currently no private onsen facility available

Tip: If you are a vegetarian like us, don’t forget to inform them of your dietary requirements when you book (=゚ω゚)ノ.

How to Get to Tsuta Onsen Ryokan

From mid-April to mid-November, you can take JR Bus Mizuumi-Gō from either JR Aomori Station’s bus stop no.11 or bus stop no. 1 located at JR Shin-Aomori’s east exit and get off at Tsuta-Numa.

If you visit the area in winter, you will have to drive, unfortunately…

Click HERE to get back to the list of attractions in the area.

Yakeyama (焼山)

Yakeyama-Aomori-Japan
 Towada city

Yakeyama area is said to be the entrance (or the goal if you are coming from Lake Towada) to Oirase Gorge. As a base for visitors to rejuvenate from hiking and trekking, the area has a number of restaurants, ryokans/hotels, a ski resort, and even the most temperamental Ginkgo in Japan!

For more information, please refer to our article on Yakeyama!

Your Guide to the Stunning Oirase Gorge

After arriving at Yakeyama, your scenic journey shouldn’t just stop there!

The 14 km Oirase Gorge (奥入瀬渓流) in Aomori prefecture is known as one of Japan’s most scenic spots. No matter which season you visit Oirase Gorge, you will definitely be amazed by its ethereal beauty (*´ω`).

Choshi-Falls-Oirase-Gorge-Aomori-Japan
Click the photo to find out more about Oirase Gorge!

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